“The Gridiron Club” (1926)
The piano score of a march called “Universal Peace” was discovered among old papers at Sousa’s Sands Point estate in 1965. The title “National Defense” had been crossed out. Sections are almost identical to sections of the march now known as “The Gridiron Club,” the march Sousa apparently composed shortly thereafter and dedicated to the Gridiron Club, the celebrated organization of journalists in Washington, D.C.
He did almost the same thing with still another march, one bearing no title. In this instance he used some sections for “The Gridiron Club” and later used most of the remainder for a march called “The Wildcats” (1930 or 1931). The end result of this musical juggling was that three separate marches grew from this nucleus: “The Gridiron Club,” “Universal Peace,” and “The Wildcats.” Apparently he felt that “The Gridiron Club” was the best of the three, because the other two were never published.
Sousa had a long association with the “Griddies,” attending their annual meetings faithfully for over forty years. He had composed a humorous song for them, “Do We? We Do,” thirty-five years earlier. When Sousa died in 1932, a sizable delegation of the organization attended his funeral, and the Gridiron Club Quartet provided the only music.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 58. Used by permission.